The Countdown Begins: Your Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist
It’s never too early to start planning. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to matrimonial bliss.
First things first:
- Tell friends and family.
- Set the date.
- Choose the type of wedding you want (formal, semi-formal, informal; which season).
- Set a wedding budget and decide who will be able to contribute and how much.
- Visit, choose and book your ceremony and reception sites.
- Pick a photographer/videographer.
- Have engagement photos taken.
- Start shopping for your gown.
- Start working on your guest list.
- Arrange for both sets of parents to get together.
9 to 12 months before:
- Sign up for any pre-marital counseling or classes.
- Announce your engagement in local newspapers, if desired.
- Choose your wedding party members.
- Arrange the first meeting with your minister, priest or rabbi and wedding planner (if using one).
- Throw an engagement party.
- Gather wedding inspiration. Start a Pinterest board. Search magazines and websites for ideas.
- Begin adding the names of vendors and their contact information into a master contact list.
6 to 9 months before:
- Select a caterer.
- Choose a baker, schedule cake tastings.
- Order your gown and schedule fittings (remember to bring your shoes).
- Shop for bridesmaid dresses.
- Hire a florist.
- Book a band/DJ.
- Start researching honeymoon spots.
- Finalize the guest list.
- Book a stationer (and calligrapher, if using one).
- Mail save-the-date cards.
- Purchase your shoes, headpiece, jewelry and lingerie for the big day.
- Book hair and makeup artists for the big day.
- Reserve event necessities. Book portable toilets for outdoor events, extra chairs, linens, lighting and so on.
- Start making a day-of timeline, determining what should happen when (speeches, first dance, etc).
- Book a block of hotel rooms near the reception site for out-of-town guests.
- Register for gifts at two to three places.
- Start to keep track of favorite songs.
4 to 6 months before:
- Order all wedding stationery (invitations, envelopes, thank-you notes) and work out pricing for programs, menus and place cards, which will be printed closer to the date.
- Hire wedding-day transportation.
- Book flights and hotel reservations for your honeymoon.
- Arrange the rehearsal dinner.
- Schedule any beauty treatments (brow-waxing, facials, teeth-whitening) that you’d like to have done before the wedding.
- Send a guest list to the host of your bridal shower.
- Order passport, if necessary.
- Purchase wedding rings; order engraving.
- Remind mother and mother-in-law to start shopping for their dresses.
2 to 4 months before:
- Order the suits for the groom and groomsmen.
- Meet with the caterer or facility manager to discuss menus, wine selections, serving style, etc.
- Choose and order wedding favors and welcome baskets, if desired.
- Order the wedding cake.
- Meet with your officiant to discuss your ceremony; invite loved ones to perform readings, if appropriate.
- Choose songs for the ceremony and reception.
- Buy thank-you gifts for your attendants.
- Confirm group hotel rates for out-of-town guests.
- Book your pre-wedding and wedding-night hotel.
- Finalize your honeymoon plans.
- Send invitations to the calligrapher if you’re using one.
- Plan your bachelorette party with your attendants.
- Send a day-of timeline to your vendors so they’ll have ample time for tweaks and feedback.
- Sign up for dance lessons, if desired.
1 to 2 months before:
- Mail invitations.
- Do a hair and makeup run-through (with headpiece).
- Meet with the caterer to finalize a menu.
- Send programs, menus and escort cards to the stationer to be printed (if not using a calligrapher).
- Send your wedding announcement to local newspapers, if desired.
- Write thank-you notes as you receive gifts. Maintain a list of all presents received and thank-yous written.
2 to 4 weeks before:
- Plot the seating for the reception.
- Confirm times with all vendors.
- Have your final dress fitting.
- Write your rehearsal dinner toast.
- Compose your vows, if desired.
- Visit the salon for one last cut and color.
- Send escort cards and the seating chart to your calligrapher to fill in guests’ names and table numbers.
- Enter RSVPs into a guest-list database, and call invitees who haven’t yet responded.
-Get your marriage license. If you’re changing your name, order several extra copies.
- If changing your name, make arrangements with Social Security, Department of Motor Vehicles, credit card companies and your bank.
- Mail the rehearsal dinner invitations, if applicable.
- Stock the bar using your final head count as a guide.
- Send out as many final vendor payments as you can.
- Provide addresses for drivers of transport vehicles.
- Create a must-take “shot list” and discuss it with your photographer.
1 week before:
- Compile the fees that will be due on the wedding day.
- Give the caterer a final head count.
- Appoint a reliable pal to transport the cake knife, toasting glasses, etc. to and from the reception site.
- Get final beauty treatments (facial, waxing, brow-shaping, etc.).
- Pack for the honeymoon.
- Give your honeymoon itinerary to a friend or family member in case of emergency.
- Pick up your dress or make arrangements for it to be fetched or delivered.
- Arrange for the cake to be delivered to the reception venue.
- Buy a guest book, if you choose to use one.
- Delegate small wedding-day tasks: someone to carry your things; someone to bustle your dress; someone to manage the gifts; someone to hand out tips; and so on.
- Send a timeline to the bridal party, including every member’s contact information.
- Break in your shoes.
- Assemble and distribute welcome baskets to out-of-town guests, if desired.
- Pick up wedding rings, check engravings and sizes.
- Remind men to pick up formalwear and shoes, and check them for fit.
- If you don’t have a personal attendant, ask a friend to help you get dressed on the big day.
- Talk to head usher about any special seating arrangements.
- Arrange for a light snack for the wedding party to eat while getting ready for the ceremony.
Last 24 hours:
- Help decorate the venue, if necessary.
- Have a manicure, pedicure and any other last-minute pampering treatments.
- Distribute thank-you gifts to the wedding party, special attendants and parents.
- Organize for a note or gift to be delivered to your fiancé on the wedding day.
- Take a relaxing bath, go to bed early and start getting excited. You’re about to get married!